Tagged: Welington Castillo

#Cubs Theo: “We have a lot of answers in camp”

The Cubs have had inquiries from other teams regarding catcher Welington Castillo but Theo Epstein said Monday he did not anticipate a trade prior to the start of the season.

“We don’t think it’s a high likelihood we’ll make a move outside of this camp,” Epstein said. “We think we have a lot of answers here in camp and as we look forward into the season with what we have at Triple-A, it’s pretty good.”

The Cubs will likely open the season with three catchers, Castillo plus Miguel Montero and David Ross.

— Carrie Muskat

3/3 Three amigos

Joe Maddon named Jon Lester as the Opening Night starter. Does that mean David Ross will be the Cubs’ Opening Night catcher?

Lester has a 2.77 ERA when Ross is behind the plate, but Maddon said Tuesday that he hasn’t written his lineup that far in advance. Lester and Ross will be paired together on Friday when the lefty makes his Cactus League debut.

“I think Jon will tell you straight up he’s comfortable throwing to any catcher and I don’t think he wants to dictate who will catch him on any specific night,” Maddon said.

But because it would be the season opener and Lester’s first game at Wrigley Field since signing a six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs, wouldn’t it make sense to do everything possible so the pitcher feels comfortable?

“I don’t know, only because my first thought is Jon Lester has pitched in World Series,” Maddon said. “He, like everyone else, will be a little nervous the first inning or so, maybe the first two or three pitches, then he’ll settle in. Our other catcher is really competent. I have not agonized over that thought yet.”

The other catcher Maddon was speaking of is Miguel Montero. However, the Cubs also have Welington Castillo in camp, who has been the starter the last two seasons.

“If [Castillo] is on the team as a third catcher, it will be difficult [to get playing time],” Maddon said. “Off the top of my head, it would be a situation where we’ll have to find a spot for him to start. You’ll probably want to run for David Ross, you’ll probably want to run for Montero late in the game. You’d probably not be concerned at all about putting Welly back there because of his throwing ability and blocking ability.”

The Cubs also like having Castillo as insurance if Montero or Ross get injured.

“This game has a really cruel way of answering questions, and that’s why right now, this is all theoretical stuff and I get it,” Maddon said. “‘I don’t know’ is my best answer.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/22 Three catchers? No problem

All David Ross has asked of his new Cubs teammates so far is to guide him so he go to the wrong field for drills. Ross may not know his way around the Cubs complex but he can definitely handle a pitching staff. And so can the Cubs other two catchers.

“From the other dugout, I’ve always known the benefits that [Ross] brought to a team,” manager Joe Maddon said Sunday, “and then you get to converse with him and be with him, and it’s true. He’s just a different man.”

What Maddon likes is how much Ross understands the game. And they’ve only been together three days. Ross is still getting to know everyone.

“I’ve introduced myself to some guys three or four times,” Ross said Sunday.

He wasn’t signed to a two-year deal simply to keep Jon Lester happy. The Cubs like Ross’s experience and leadership, and Theo Epstein sold the catcher on what they’re trying to do in Chicago.

“I think this is one of the places to be in Major League Baseball,” Ross said. “Joe said it the other day, this is the spot to be. I believe that, too, whether Jon Lester is here or not. These guys came in to play [the Red Sox] last year, and kicked our tail. I saw it first hand, and faced Jake Arrieta. He was the best pitcher I faced last year all year with my limited at-bats. He was a true top of the rotation starter.”

The Cubs not only have Ross but veteran Miguel Montero and Welington Castillo, who has been the starter the last two seasons. Maddon is high on the trio.

“You get three catchers like that in the same area code, that’s pretty good,” Maddon said.

The Cubs have had three top catchers on a roster before. In 1991, Joe Girardi, Damon Berryhill and Rick Wilkins were together on the team.

While Ross, who turns 38 next month, will likely be matched up with Lester as he was in Boston, Maddon will talk to Montero, 31, about how many games he wants to catch. The manager already knows the answer will be as many as possible.

— Carrie Muskat

2/20 Rites of spring

Jon Lester, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jason Motte and Jason Hammel all are scheduled to throw side sessions Friday on the first workout day for pitchers and catchers in Cubs camp. Joe Maddon met with the players before the workout for a 25-minute talk.

* Welington Castillo says he hasn’t talked to anyone in management regarding his status. The Cubs traded for Miguel Montero and also signed free agent David Ross. Castillo has been the starter the last two seasons.

“I haven’t heard anything,” Castillo said. “I’m still a Chicago Cub. I’m just here to get better, keep working hard like I always do. I can’t control that.”

He didn’t use injuries last season as an excuse.

“I think i just put too much expectations on myself, too much pressure to get better than what I did the year before,” Castillo said. “I think that was hurting me a little bit. At the end of the day, I realized it hurt me and I put too much pressure trying to do better. I didn’t just let my ability take care of it and play and go out and have fun. I think that was all on me.”

* Edwin Jackson did meet with Maddon, and says he’ll be prepared for whatever the Cubs want him to do.

“I just have to worry about myself and do everything that’s possible and do everything I have to do to help the team win ballgames,” Jackson said.

Is there a chance he will be in the rotation?

“We’ll see,” he said. “The only thing I’ve been worried about is getting myself right and getting prepared to play ball.”

* Congrats to Cubs prospect C.J. Edwards, who is engaged to be married.

— Carrie Muskat

1/16 Castillo, Arrieta done

The Cubs avoided arbitration Friday with Jake Arrieta and Welington Castillo. The Cubs signed Arrieta to a one-year, $3.63 million contract, and agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million deal with Castillo.

Arrieta, 28, is coming off a stellar season with the Cubs in which he compiled a 10-5 record and 2.53 ERA in 25 starts, including his first complete game shutout. The right-hander carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning in three starts, the first Cubs pitcher to do so since 1950. He was projected to the Cubs 2015 Opening Day starter until Jon Lester was signed.

“It’s hard to not want to give it up to a guy like that,” Arrieta said Thursday of the Opening Day honors. “[Lester] is well deserving, he’s a leader, and a guy who all of us can look to for advice and ways to build and grow and learn as players. No problem with that at all.”

Castillo’s future isn’t as clear. The catcher hit a career-high 13 home runs but batted .237 last season in 110 games. The Cubs have added catchers Miguel Montero and David Ross this offseason. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said they’ve had some inquiries about Castillo but haven’t found the right match.

The Cubs now have three arbitration-eligible players remaining, including Travis Wood, Luis Valbuena, and Pedro Strop.

— Carrie Muskat

12/9 Cubs acquire Montero

Miguel Montero may be the answer to the Cubs’ wish list for a left-handed hitting catcher to complement Welington Castillo. Major League sources confirmed the Cubs will acquire Montero from the Diamondbacks for two players Tuesday. According to reports, the D-Backs will receive Minor Leaguers Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley. The deal is contingent upon Montero passing a physical.

Montero, 31, batted .243 in 136 games last season with the D-Backs, hitting 13 home runs and driving in 72 runs. He’s owed $40 million over the next three years, and it’s projected the Cubs would assume most, if not all, of that money with low level prospects going to the D-Backs.

Castillo did hit a career-high 13 home runs this past season but batted .237, including a .216 average against right-handed pitchers. He batted .301 against lefties, and the addition of a left-handed hitting catcher would definitely help the Cubs lineup.

Mejia, 20, was 2-4 in 12 games last season in the Arizona Rookie League, his second professional season, giving up 11 earned runs over 40 innings. Godley, 24, was the Cubs’ 10th round pick in 2013, out of Tennessee, and was a combined 4-3 with a 3.09 ERA at Class A Kane County and high A Daytona last season, striking out 77 over 55 1/3 innings.

— Carrie Muskat

11/21 Could Cubs be match with Montero?

Could Miguel Montero be the upgrade at catcher the Cubs are looking for? According to the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro, the Cubs are one of three teams who have spoken to the Diamondbacks about the left-handed hitting catcher (joining the White Sox and Dodgers). The Cubs missed in their attempt to sign free agent Russell Martin, who agreed to a five-year deal with the Blue Jays this week. Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart has said he’s not shopping any of their players, including Montero, but did say he’s had inquiries about several players. Montero was rumored to be available because of his contract — he’s owed $40 million over the next three years. Montero, 31, batted .243 this season with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs. He’s led the Majors in innings caught since 2011. In his second full season as the Cubs regular catcher, Welington Castillo batted .237 this past season with 13 home runs and 46 RBIs.

— Carrie Muskat

11/4 The Cubs and Russell Martin

One day after signing free agent manager Joe Maddon, the Cubs are checking the list of free agent players and are reportedly looking at Russell Martin. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman said the Cubs are going to target Martin, considered the top catcher available this offseason. Sources also told Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s Patrick Mooney that the Cubs have Martin on their radar.

The Pirates extended the $15.3 million qualifying offer to Martin, but he was expected to turn that down. The Pirates want to bring Martin back, and are one of several teams interested in the catcher. The list also is believed to include the Blue Jays and Red Sox. Martin will most likely be looking for a five-year deal, especially after catchers Brian McCann, Yadier Molina and Miguel Montero each signed contracts of that length. McCann received $85 million, Molina $75 million and Montero $60 million.

Other players who received the one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer on Monday include Max Scherzer, Victor Martinez, Melky Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Nelson Cruz, Francisco Liriano, Michael Cuddyer and Ervin Santana. The players have until Nov. 10 to make a decision.

The Cubs would not have to give up a first-round Draft pick to sign Martin because of the team’s finish in the bottom 10 among Major League teams but instead it would cost a second-round pick. They also would have the amount slotted for that pick subtracted from the total amount of their Draft signing bonus pool, which governs how much a team can spend to sign picks in the top 10 rounds.

Martin’s slash line last season with the Pirates was .290/.402/.430, and he hit 11 home runs and drove in 67. He did miss time early in the season because of a left hamstring injury.

The Cubs had hoped Welington Castillo could pick up where he left off in the second half of 2013 when he hit .288 but instead batted .237 in 110 games. Castillo did set career-highs in home runs (13) and RBIs (46), but also was sidelined with a rib cage injury.

— Carrie Muskat

9/23 Cubs 4, Cardinals 3, 10 innings

Welington Castillo hit a two-run homer in the second inning and a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the 10th to lift the Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday night.

With the game tied at 3 and one out in the 10th, Anthony Rizzo doubled off Pat Neshek, lining the ball to the right-center gap. The ball bounced into the ivy. Rizzo moved up on Jorge Soler’s groundout and Luis Valbuena was intentionally walked to set up Castillo, who line the ball into right for the game-winner.

Castillo hit his 13th home run of the season in the second, and rookie Matt Szczur made it 3-0 with a leadoff home run in the fifth, his second big league blast and first at Wrigley Field.

Hendricks did not get a decision, and will make one more start Sunday at Miller Park against the Brewers. He posted a 1.99 ERA in seven starts at Wrigley Field this season.

The Cubs are 40-40 at Wrigley Field with one home game remaining on Wednesday.

— Carrie Muskat

9/5 Castillo update

Cubs catcher Welington Castillo was scratched from Friday’s lineup because of low back tightness but he expected to return to action on Saturday. Castillo said he’s been bothered by soreness in his back for a couple weeks, and felt his back tighten in batting practice. He expected to return on Saturday.

— Carrie Muskat